It has occurred to me that I'm not in the mainstream on this matter of naming the new baseball stadium.
I'm not stirred to poetry by any of the names mentioned so far. I have my own suggestion, but when I mention it people laugh and say, "Oh yeah, right," just like David Letterman when a guest says something stupid. As if I was suggesting the Crabcake Bowl or something.
I happen to think mine is the right name, the perfect name, but I guess it puts me out there. Out there on the fringe. I'm Timothy Leary. I'm the third-party candidate. I'm Mr. "Toys in the Attic."
But I shall press on.
My hope, I suppose, is that the people who choose the name -- that's the Orioles and the stadium folk, a testy brotherhood if ever there was one -- will get creative and consider some alternatives. At least try.
They have met once so far and, according to Herb Belgrad, only the four leading names were mentioned. Babe Ruth Stadium. Oriole Park. Camden Yards. Memorial Stadium.
Sorry. Those just don't stir me to poetry. It isn't that I abhor them: In fact, I could live with any except Oriole Park. But I can give you reasons we shouldn't use them. I think we can do better.
If it is Camden Yards, see, people would confuse us with Camden, New Jersey. That is a harsh fate. Camden is one of those places you go when you're young and need to cross a state line to buy beer.
Memorial Stadium. Not a thing wrong with it. Honoring war veterans is a fine idea. But after 37 years with a Memorial Stadium, we should try something different.
Babe Ruth Stadium. It's indeed a coincidence that the child Bambino frolicked where the outfield will be. But he didn't hit one of his 714 home runs here. He also left town. Honoring his legend is OK, but there are others more deserving.
Oriole Park. This one irks me. Edward Bennett Williams used blackmail to get the thing built, refusing to sign a long lease for Memorial Stadium. He took advantage of a local paranoia about moving vans. We didn't need a new stadium. He needed one for his bottom line. Before we call it Oriole Park, we should call it Profit Park.
Goodness me, I love to harrumph.
OK, you're saying, then what's this "perfect" name you've dreamed up? If all these other names have such flaws, you're saying, let's hear the flawless one.
In time, in time. It's coming, it's coming. Let me explain, let me explain.
Here is my theory. It's going to be a beautiful stadium. I know this because I read it in The New York Times. Millions of fans will watch games there. Fans always come to new stadiums. But -- and pay attention, because this is important -- the fans of Baltimore would come even if the Orioles were still playing in "obsolete" Memorial Stadium.
Even if you didn't build it, they would come.
The fans are the baseball stars in this town. They keep coming and coming. The Orioles have the worst record in baseball's worst division over the past five-plus years, and still the fans come. And don't boo much. And continue to care. And fill up the lines on the talk shows. And argue about trades. And keep thinking something good is about to happen.
Meanwhile, the Orioles keep shoving bad baseball down their throats. Bad baseball and low payrolls and silly manager firings. All that, and 2 million fans probably will show up this year.
Yes, the fans deserve the honor. They deserve the stadium named for them. They're paying for the thing anyway.
So then, how do we go about doing this? I brainstormed with myself on it. In other words, I slept on it. A lot of ideas came to mind, but were somehow lacking. For instance:
Our Park. We call it The Big O. But of course, no possessives are allowed in the stadium-naming game. This is to prevent every greedy owner from calling his taxpayer-built stadium My Park.
Neighbors Field. A wonderful sentiment. Unfortunately, many people would think we were honoring Gomer Pyle.
People's Park. Sounds like a stadium with big pictures of government leaders hanging in the end zone.
Tradition Field. Why do I think of Brent Musburger?
Crabcake Stadium. Make your own joke.
So you see, it isn't easy. It took me awhile to come up with the right name. I thought about it for a long time. I came up with one. I mentioned it to some people. They laughed and said, "Oh yeah, right." Just like David Letterman when a guest says something stupid.
I realize I'm out on the fringe. I do. But I shall press on.
I like my name.
Named in honor of the baseball fans of Charm City.
Friendly, cozy, just right.
Go ahead and laugh. You'd rather have Eli Jacobs naming your stadium?